What Is Contributory Negligence in a Maryland Car Accident Lawsuit?

Car accidents happen every day in Maryland by the dozens. While some of these accidents are clearly the fault of one driver, others are a little more complex. For example, a good number of Maryland car accidents are the result of several drivers making a mistake. While this is common, it can also complicate the recovery process for anyone injured in an accident.

Each state is responsible for creating its own rules when it comes to which drivers can recover for their injuries after an accident. Most states rely on a doctrine of law called comparative fault. Under a comparative fault analysis, a driver who is partially at fault can still recover compensation from other at-fault drivers. However, the injured driver will have their total damages award reduced by their percentage of fault.

For example, assume that Bill crashed into Joe. Joe suffered $100,000 in damages. At a jury trial, the jury found that Bill was 90 percent responsible for the collision and that Joe was 10 percent at fault. In this case, Joe would recover $90,000, rather than the full $100,000.

Maryland, however, does not subscribe to the comparative fault analysis. Instead, Maryland courts use a much older (and harsher) doctrine called contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is only used by a few states, including Maryland and Virginia. While many states used to rely on this doctrine, they have since realized the often-unfair result of its application. Under a contributory negligence analysis, any driver who is even the slightest bit responsible for an accident is entirely precluded from recovering for their injuries. To use the example above, neither Bill nor Joe could recover from the other because they each shared blame.

While most Maryland car accident cases use a contributory negligence model, not all of them do. For example, under the “last clear chance” doctrine, an injured driver may not be prevented from recovering for their injuries if the other at-fault driver had an opportunity to avoid the accident but failed to do so. Of course, depending on the situation, proving that another driver could have avoided an accident but didn’t can be challenging.

Do I Need a Lawyer After a Maryland Car Accident?

Given the strict application of Maryland’s contributory negligence law, it is essential that those injured in a car accident work with an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help explain to the insurance company, judge or jury, why the accident was not your fault and that you deserve compensation for what you’ve been through.

Were You Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one was recently injured in a Maryland car accident, reach out to the dedicated injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen. At our personal injury law firm, we have decades of experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they need and deserve. With our help, you can effectively pursue a claim for monetary damages against the parties responsible for the collision. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Maryland car accident attorney today, call 800-654-1949. You can also reach us through our online contact form.

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